This isn't about saying you shouldn't fight for more than you're getting. This diary is about one overwhelming fact: in an imperfect world, in a Democracy where the opposition is desperately trying to keep you from winning, in a party whose recent history has been dominated by compromise and decline, getting the results you want can be a frustrating and infuriating process.
I wonder, though, if our raw feelings about that, the inferiority complex that's built aren't part of what's making things more difficult. I wonder if the weight of all those years of being in second place hasn't made us more volatile as a political force, more likely to give up, rather than stick with it for the long term.
To me, politics is a game of numbers, where even the most worthy, most sensible legislation can suffer defeat if the formulations are wrong. It would be nice not to have to concern ourselves with the sausage grinding particulars of things, to believe that great and good legislation doesn't come out of torturous processes, but that naivete, I would submit, is a dangerous illusion that cannot be indulged.
I'm afraid our situation is that making forward progress is difficult, and it will give you grey hairs. Just look at the forces arrayed against us. Why do you think there won't be fights? How do you think you can just sit there and go, oh, I'll quit because so much is going wrong, or I'm taking my ball and going home because what I wanted wasn't there.
We can't think that small. For one thing, it makes us easier targets of Republican efforts to discourage us simply by stonewalling things. If they can defeat us merely by frustrating our initiatives, what do you think they're going to do. Political change is often an marathon, and endurance race instead of a sprint. The people who win, often enough, are the people who stick around and fight the exhaustion and frustration long enough to be the folks who are still standing at the end of the day.
Nothing worth doing like this is easy. It took 40 years from the Stonewall Riots, over two centuries from the foundation of our country for New York to get equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Thomas Jefferson said all men were created equal. It took over two and one quarter centuries for Barack Obama to demonstrate that in the White House, that phrase held true.
Even so, he still gets shit for being black.
People who mourn the decline of Unions now forget a time when unions were virtually outlawed, when Pinkerton Detectives and even National Guard units were called in to break strikes. People look at todays robber barons and forget yesteryear's fat cats, and the extreme deprivation that was possible then.
There's no question difficulties, unfair difficulties at that lay ahead of us. Which is why we ought to be less willing to turn up our nose at getting results.
We're going to have to fight for every inch of progressive advancement we want in the coming years. Nobody, not the Chamber of Commerce, not the Republican Party in the House, nor the GOP in the Senate, is going to let us have anything for free. Now we can either resign ourselves to their dominance (which is a different attitude or outcome than we had before, how?) or we can decide that we're going to test their ability to endure, their tolerance for a long term policy war.
Let me tell you a secret here: the Republican voters are just as frustrated with their people as we are with ours. They can't understand why, after digging in the pile of poop for so long, why they haven't found their pony, especially not their magic market fairy made pony in all that manure. They've been promised economic miracles for decades, provided they kept the faith , and it's not been forthcoming.
The Tea Party is a sign of the impatience and the worn out ideology of the Republican Party. It's a symbol of its self-contradiction, a party of populists that does the bidding of the elite without question, a party built on racial tensions and a stark dislike of Democrats and liberals. It's the party that can't believe a black man could get elected, much less bring Keynesian economic back with him. It's a party that can't stand the idea that we might win.
So, we have a real fight with them. We're going to have to pry their deathgrip on power off of the House and Senate, and keep their idiocy away from the White House.
Here's what I'd say: celebrate the small advances. Don't let the current frustrations or limitations define your politics. Don't stake your political movement on the willingness of the politicians to carry out your agenda. They can disappoint you, they can fail. No, instead, invest in your political agenda because that's what you want, and that's what you've decided you're going to get. Everything else is just matter of putting together the means to see policy done your way.
Don't wait for somebody else to motivate you, to inspire you. Motivate and inspire yourself. If you really care about the issues, really care about how our government runs, that shouldn't be an issue. You'll have all the motivation you need to get up and out there, and to do your part.
As for the Democratic Party, the DNC, and all the rest of it? Make the decision that it belongs to you, and insist on the rights that the owner has. Decide that this part of ours is going to serve us. All the rest is the details of how we get practical control over the party we wish to control more extensively. Accepting the bullshit that it all belongs to special interests and corporations just reinforces that bullshit, because then your first impulses will be to let Caesar have what is Caesar's.
When bad situations become evident, our first impulse shouldn't be to say that the corporations rule the country. Our first impulse should be to say that we rule this country, and organize our actions and our rhetoric along the lines of reclaiming what is rightfully ours. Those who stole what rightfully belongs to us, who try to steal our equalilty from us, make virtual subjects of us, cannot and will not be allowed to keep their ill-gotten gains.
We cannot win by allowing despair and short-term disappointment to blunt our will to fight, our support for the overall party. Sometimes the small victories are what we have to work with. But if our enemies recognize that each small victory just mean's we're that closer to winning it all, if they know that any setback they deal us won't stop us, then perhaps we'll stop being the folks who are the political wimps, and will start being the folks the political opposition fears.